A Brisbane lesbian couple have started 2013 in disastrous fashion after their house burnt down on Boxing Day as they were visiting family in north Queensland. Tragedy struck Cath Wheeler and her partner Leanne Adams before dawn on Boxing day when a freak lightning strike hit a power pole close to their Stanthorpe house. 

The fire brigade confirmed that a surge travelled to a fuse box on the couple’s fibro cottage that quickly turned into a ball of fire and engulfed the house within a matter of minutes. Fire crews had no chance of stopping the inferno.

When they initially heard the news, the couple thought they were being joked with.

“[We were] shocked. We thought it was a prank to begin with,” Wheeler told the Star Observer.

Wheeler and Adams lost all of their possessions including Christmas gifts and now only have two sets of clothes and some toiletries that they took north to call their own.

The couple were heartbroken to find out they had lost three of their four beloved cats who were tragically trapped inside the house.

The couple moved to Stanthorpe almost two months ago in search of more room for their menagerie of animals and pets and found a 16-hectare property in bushlands at Fleurbaix North.

The couple were relieved that their collection of ducks, goats and chickens survived along with two dogs that were being taken care of by a close friend. The couple planned to return home on Boxing Day but Wheeler’s car broke down after the radiator burst on Christmas Eve. However given the time the fire started, the couple wouldn’t have made it back home in time

“We’re getting there. The support has been fantastic so we can’t complain,” Wheeler said.

The overwhelmingly positive community response has so far seen neighbours donating furniture, the local op shop opening out of hours for the couple to get some emergency clothing and a real estate agent allowing them to move into a house without the need for a bond approval.

“We’re writing down names of everybody as we go and we plan on thanking them after we’ve settled down and recovered.”

“You take all the little things for granted, like replacing clothes and toiletries, stuff that buy when you run out and now we have to buy all at once. Little things like that are costing us a fortune. Any help would be amazing.”

Close friend Carol Rix has set up an appeal for the couple and financial donations. Personal donations of household items, clothing or help of any kind can be offered by contacting Rix on 0407 181 247.

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